Helena* worked in the distribution factory of a well-known food company. She was an agency worker, so effectively worked for both her agency and the distribution factory as both played a role in determining the terms of her engagement.
At work, Helena noticed a culture of racism including racist language being used by senior members of staff, as well as working practices which disadvantaged Muslim workers.
As the workforce was predominantly from Muslim and south Asian backgrounds, this behaviour impacted a wide group of people.
Helena decided to raise her concerns and followed the company’s internal whistleblowing process. She included a detailed account of the instances of racism she had witnessed and identified that they were potential breaches of the Equality Act 2010. Helena also shared that they also had a significant impact on staff wellbeing, and posed a risk to health and safety.
After raising her concerns, Helena’s confidentiality was breached so other staff members knew about the concerns she had raised. She experienced bullying and harassment from her peers and her shifts were cut down by management. Helena was eventually dismissed on unfounded allegations of misconduct.
Helena immediately sought advice from Protect. We advised her that she could bring a whistleblowing claim in the Employment Tribunal (ET) and guided her through the Acas early conciliation process, as well as the procedure for bringing a whistleblowing claim.
For Helena’s situation we advised on a specific aspect of employment law which allows agency workers to bring whistleblowing claims against both employers and end-users (in her case, the distribution factory). Helena used one of our template forms to set out her claims, which we reviewed to help her present a stronger more focused case. We also advised Helena to get alternative equality law advice because she had claims under the Equality Act.
Being met with a strong, well-argued claim both her agency and the distribution factory were inclined to settle. Settlement is often the preferable outcome for whistleblowers as it provides financial remedy and avoids stressful, complex and emotionally taxing litigation which can be drawn out over a number of years. We advised Helena on how to calculate the compensation owed to her (known as a schedule of loss) and a strategy for settling the case. Following judicial mediation Helena settled her claim for a substantial five figure sum. She told us she was delighted with this result and described Protect as some of the best people she had ever spoken to.
*Name has been changed at request of the individual.